Friday, February 19, 2010

Hike 23: Mel Canyon to Mt. Bliss, Take 2

Gooseberry, lupine, two shots of bush sunflowers, and a broom (I think). Overcast day. Just a little sunshine on the way back, when I shot the sunflowers.

Small shot, but you might be able to see the outline of a turkey vulture. It took a little patience to get a shot with it flying behind the flowers.

Sunflower and bee.

The main point of this hike was to cover some old ground. The first (and last) time I was here, I didn't get back until after sunset. It was impossible to follow the trail back to where I started from.
Today was easier. I started near where Melcanyon Road and Opal Canyon Road intersect with Brookridge Road. The hike guide I often rely on said the trail began at the top of Melcanyon. That's how I went up there last time. However, that sends you up an overgrown storm drainage ditch. After a few hundred yards, that drainage ditch led me to what looked like a driveway.
Today, I just went up the "driveway." Although there's a mailbox at the base of this "driveway" (I think it said 160), but this is actually a continuation of Opal Canyon Road, going a just a bit north of Brookridge.
You go up about 50 yards and there's a fence and gate with a house on your right. In front of you is a locked swinging gate blocking the road for auto traffic. However, the gate it is not posted no tresspasing, so I walked under the gate arm. Up another 50 yards or so, you come to a rectangular fenced area around a water tank. Walk around the fenced area and there's a hole in the foliage. Walk through there and there's a steep trail, with steps created by railroad ties pounded into the ground. This means you know you're on an improved trail, although it is very overgrown.
Follow this trail about a 1/4 mile and it reaches a flat area, almost like you could imagine horses walking in circles. Pay careful attention to where you came from, because on your return, the propery trail is far from obvious.
Turn left and the trail continues about 150 yards, soon passing through another bare area. Then it intersects with the Van Tassel Fire Road (1N36). Follow this trail up about four miles.
As you ascend the ridge (rather quickly!), you'll notice Sawpit Canyon to the west. You may also see the large dam at the end of Sawpit Canyon. If you keep going on the road you're on long enough, you'd intersect with the dirt road that comes out of Sawpit Canyon.
To the east is Fish Canyon, which I posted about previously.
Shortly after the road begins descending (after about 3.5 miles from when you intersected the road), you'll see another fire road, making a sharp right, to the south. About twenty yards after staring along that fire road, you'll notice another clear trail/overgrown road, heading sharply to the left (east). This trail runs along the ridge, heading up Mt. Bliss. You'll pass under some high-tension powerlines along the way. Lots of buckwheat and yucca on the way up, and a lot of mazanita near the broad summit.
There's a "trail registry" in a zip lock in a coffee can at the summit.

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